Does anyone else feel like we haven't seen a football game in weeks? My brain assures me that we watched at least one pretty entertaining college football game just 5 days ago, but my heart is already hurting like it's the offseason. That's not a very good sign, is it? Oh well. I guess we just have to content ourselves with anticipating the eighth January bowl appearance of the Mark Richt era. And our anticipation is warranted: the Bulldogs are 5-2 in such contest with Coach Richt at the helm. Think any of our traditional rivals would choose their current coach over that level of success? Don't Bet On It!
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (12/29)
Rice v. Air Force (-1.5)
I have a fundamental problem with Air Force running the triple option. But their 328 yards per game is good enough for second in the nation, so it's hard to question what they're doing. Seniors Connor Dietz and Cody Getz should have a field day against an Owl defense that gives up more than 5 yards per carry. The Falcons will cover in a bowl game named after a helicopter company.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (12/29)
Navy (+14.5) v. Arizona State
Todd Graham is a weasel, and that's a lot of points. We'll take the Middies plus more than 2 TDs on principle.
Valero Alamo Bowl (12/29)
No. 23 Texas v. No. 13 Oregon State (-2)
The Beavers have gone from 3-9 in 2011 to 9-3 in 2012, and their only losses were to No. 5 Oregon, No. 14 Stanford, and Washington (which isn't so embarassing when you remember that the Huskies also beat Stanford). Someone in Corvalis needs to give Mike Riley a raise. Things aren't so good in Texas. In fact, it's hard to pick one problem as the worst. Is it the loss of their offensive coordinator? Is that more troubling when you consider that they just named a starting QB for the bowl? What about the fact that their defensive coordinator is actively looking for a new job? Are these guys moving up or just getting out? Either way, when one team is on the rise and the other is coasting (at best), you have to take the hot hand. The Beavers beat Texas by at least 2 in the 'Horns own backyard.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (12/29)
TCU (-2.5) v. Michigan State
I know three things about this game: 1) Its sponsor's commercials are terrible. 2) The fact that Michigan State's moribund offense is only the third worst in the Big Integer is a testament to just how terrible that conference is this year. 3) Gary Patterson is still the head man at TCU. Without knowing anything else, I'm picking the Horned Frogs to cover, and I feel pretty good about it.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (12/31)
North Carolina State v. Vanderbilt (-7)
When Tennessee beat NC State 35-21 to open the season, we all thought that the Vols were going to be a contender. We should have been more worried about Tennessee's defense giving up 3 TDs to a Wolfpack squad whose offense finished 72nd in the nation. Whatever success they have found has been through the air, which might be a problem against a Vanderbilt defense that ranks fifth in the nation in per play pass defense. All of that is just a long way of saying that we'll take the SEC over the ACC any day and twice on Monday the 31st. (That's a spoiler alert for next week's picks, by the way.)